I can hear the groans of grown men from here. Some of them not at all pleasant. They are imagining a life without scantily-clad women to gawp at when they go to the motorsport. Lorks! The anguish they must be feeling. The bereft state they find themselves in, suddenly, and with a bewildering shock. I can sense their dis-ease at the changing landscape. One that holds no hip-hugging-lycra ladies, nor free cans of Monster held out by a widely-smiling angel. The future must feel like a bleak and unfair place.
I read that the once beatific babes themselves are aghast that anyone should find them offensive. Question their right to employment, their empowerment. How dear we shrivelled and over-sensitive moral brigade call out the silliness of their status. Don’t we know, they will be jobless? A job they so passionately love. That a whole stable of sex-pots will be redundant. Negated, unheard and just not cherished enough. Sad days. Who will carry the brollies?
But wait. A surprising turn. For now we have a plot twist – and given the rarity of a plot at all – engagement and activism from both sides in joined pursuit of a mutually beneficial climax. I mean out-cum. Outcome. This is the stuff of fantasies. This is a coming together (rarely happens, it has to be said, have you seen the state of that beer-belly?) of a band of dubiously developed men, desperately wanting to protect the objects of their desire.
Feeding such simple needs, this scenario… hot girls become maidens in need of rescue, normally quiet impotent men rise up demanding retribution on behalf of the meek, the mewling minxes say No! We are strong and fighting and we stand tall in our stilettos. The men, at once, in thrall and engorged with purpose. An excuse to connect with objects of their affection, to offer affirmation. It is the story of centuries. A centuries-old profession. That of the sexy con. The gifted sweet smile in exchange for a good bartering. The selling of goods. She doesn’t mind they are her goods being sold but the boss-man’s products being bought.
These two are bit players on the set-edge of a yawning cavern of change. Their puppet-masters, aware of the shift and managing the stage carefully. Watching from aloft, while counting the revenue receipts as the entertainment settles in to a new groove.
What tweaks my nip most, is the vehement vilification of those who agree it is time for the removal of #gridgirls from our tracks and telly-boxes. Such a noisey chest-beating response by men, to what should be an obvious and positive change. And astoundingly nasty commentary from women…
“I saw a minger on tv saying it’s morally wrong… bet if she had a quarter of the looks these girls had she’d be doing it too!”
Yeah, because ugly* is the only reason a woman wouldn’t do the job, right? FFS. Honestly, bitch?
*When women are calling other women mingers, ugly… when females are using beauty values to dismiss someone’s intelligence and academic achievements, shitballs, we still have a massive problem.
Right, where was I?
From your keyboard you are yelling. It is Political Correctness Out of Control! Listen, your anti-PC insularity is not what this is about. The curdling cries of What next? No more ads featuring stunning actresses wearing red lipstick biting seductively at a chocolate bar to make us all a-titter? All the beautiful people banished into an underground dystopian world? Those self-replicating fembots making us wear loose sack-cloth from head to toe, hiding our man-memberage in case blood-flow takes a detour from the brain? People actually suggesting “… it’ll be the Burka before long, mark my words…” (can almost picture the shaking staff and accompanying spit at the dirt floor in curse). Because the choice of what women wear in a promotional role in public is that binary. Either your body is encased in figure-tight luridly-branded lycra or, only your eyes will be seen. A hijab though? More surface area for the branding, it has to be said – may be the way to go. Like a grounded zeppelin. Anyhoo. Are you all insane? Or is this just being male? Because that doesn’t make it ok this time.
And don’t start @ me about ‘The Feminists’. Please. That somehow heavy-hoofed he-women have pressured the cowering boss-mans of F1 and Darts, dictating in world-ending prophecy, that all femme-bodies shall be covered in breathable material, that they shall not endure long hours of posing atop ridiculous footwear, and henceforth be free from the
pervy, penetrating, prying eyes of a guy being manipulated by sex into buying the latest sock for his helmet. This is about money, don’t let them make you think it is anything other. If the #gridgirls and promo staff bought in ROI that fiscally outweighed current misogyny, alienating the growing female demographic, and the just plain glamorous (see tacky, cheap, creepy, prostitution-like) tradition of it, F1 certainly wouldn’t be ceasing this plying of their trade. It is a business decision and not one based on morals but driven by dollars.
Your accusatory, aggressive, abuse towards Feminism makes me reel. From fear. Have we not learned to embrace and trust it; that Feminism is the umbrella (see what I did there?) under which women have grown stronger and more confident, sought shelter and shared stories. Feminism is the small space we give ourselves to find what we want to do with our lives, to then move forward knowing the path is made safer for us. And you women, calling out your sisters for caring about the generations to come, our daughters. For wanting the betterment of society for us all. For believing, and rightly so, that these roles perpetuate and support the objectification and sexualisation of females. Dissing us for wanting you to know:
you are more than just body parts
More than a nice face and a photogenic personality. By not hearing our voices trying to join with your own, you allow sexism to continue it’s “enduring, pervasive, systemic, cultural, and ingrained” existence (Reisenwitz). That faux-empowerment, the language you are using, mimics your overlords. Take a beat, girl.
Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes (Google dictionary, my dears).
The way in which we “define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.”
(Wiki, see the definition is easy to find…)
Hell, it’s not a new concept – it is older than your bra-burning Grandmother. The word feminism has been around since the late c19 and whilst it’s evolution has seen the inclusion and understanding of intersectionality, it has rarely diverted from its origin. I am a Feminist. I strongly believe in the right to choose. Choosing life-goals, choosing careers, choosing not to have children, whatever the journey. Feminism is, at it’s very heart, a woman making a choice for herself. No matter how confused or misguided she may be, she is permitted that choice.
“A choice of circumstance, or need, or desire – it does not matter. If she has made that choice for herself, then it should be honored and seen as a feminist act – a conscious choice of her destiny in the world.” Sheila Hageman, ex-stripper
I do not argue against a woman choosing to use her body any way she wishes, to pay attention to her needs, to pay the rent. What I have always objected to is the need for this outdated and inappropriate marketing tool at motorsport. At any sport. The objectification of women, the premise that an entire gender exists for the gratification of another. It remains a poor example to our children, the new spectating generation – of all genders. Let’s teach them this is no longer acceptable. That women are not a reward given to men by other men, that you cannot buy them. That being beautiful on the inside is more important than beauty on the outside… lets teach them that. And along the way, let’s keep reminding ourselves too. Because I am not sure you men would weep so loudly, be so indignant, if these were not specifically the jobs of beautiful women.
Here are my questions: can the role of #gridgirl be carried out by anyone? Can brollies be held by any gender, ethnicity, appearance or academic qualification? Yes? Then, why aren’t they? Because sex sells. Marketeers know men are hard-wired to notice sexually relevant communication (to be fair, a lot of men are still very confused about this: boundaries, permissible behaviour, consent, etc but who can argue against Harvard studies, ay?). Because purveyors of goods sold around circuits around the world, know men will spend their hard-earned, diminishing disposable income, if they feel good. Women paid to make men feel good, are a marketing tool to increase sales. But I venture, this gig is up.
And whilst the #gridgirl is long-obsolete, if rider, racer, driver, really needs a wipe-down or to hide under an umbrella and their pit-crew don’t have enough hands, then lets muster people who can utilise their abilities, holding a brolly and holding a flag, whilst wearing actual clothes. Loads of people can do that, right? It’s not a complex skill. Widen the competition, an all-inclusive employment opportunity. The uniform provided will of course be H&S appropriate overalls and steel-caps, to protect them – I mean, why wouldn’t it be?